DINING: One lunch in Bangkok (OK, two)

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Dining - A&E

There’s not a hint of Charlie and/or Barney, the chili-making bar-and-grillers, on East Ohio Street, where the unassuming duo used to reside in their namesake eatery. Instead, the site has been transformed into Bangkok Restaurant & Jazz Bar (225 E. Ohio St., 632-9000) and, after two visits, I have only one real concern.

Let’s get that out of the way first: It’s the use of the word “jazz” in its name.

ae-bangkok-1-15col.jpg Asparagus Delight, top, is among the pleasures at Bangkok Restaurant and Jazz Bar, where lunchtime diners can order off an extensive menu or graze a range of Thai staples from a buffet. (IBJ Photos/ Eric Learned)

Now, I’ve got nothing against jazz. And the idea of a jazz bar downtown is an exciting one. The problem, for now, is the only jazz you’ll hear at the tastefully appointed Bangkok is recorded music. There are plans to include live music in the future—and it would fit in well with the sleek-but-not-pretentious decor. But, for now, it’s Tony Bennett in the sound system. Not a bad thing, just potentially misleading.

As to the positives, let’s start with the very fact that a Thai restaurant is now part of the downtown mix. Sure, you can find Thai cuisine down the trail in Fountain Square at Siam Square, or at Thai Café in Broad Ripple, but what self-respecting urban downtown doesn’t have at least one outlet for Pad Thai? (And, no, Noodles & Company doesn’t count.)

For lunch, you have two basic options, then lots of variations within that. The choices: the $9.99 buffet or ordering off the menu where, conveniently, a long list of lunch specials each set you back $9.99.

Go the buffet route and you’ll find the steam tables filled with an array of Thai basics, including Pad See Ew (a stir fried noodle dish with broccoli and chicken), Red Curry Tofu, Beef Oyster and peppery Tom Yum soup with chicken. The salad bar portion includes Thai Honey Mustard as a dressing choice. And dessert offerings include fresh fruit and Fried Banana with Honey Roasted Coconut. On our visit, the kitchen kept up with the hungry crowd, replenishing the buffet regularly and keeping the area presentable. My companion and I left pleased with everything we tried—including the Coconut Juice and milky Thai Ice Tea.

On a return visit, this time solo, I resisted the temptation to return to the buffet (which, I was told, can change at the whim of the kitchen). Instead, I ordered the Thai Spice Basil aka Pad Gra Prow. The main event was a platter that included a sizable helping of pounded chicken pieces (seafood, tofu, or meat are the other options) stir fried with green beans, onions, bell pepper and basil leaves. A mountain of white rice, a cup of salad, and a finger-size spring roll were included.

I only wish the kitchen wasn’t so quick on the draw, delivering the platter before I had gotten halfway through the cup of Tom Yum soup that was also included.

Even if Bangkok weren’t the only Thai game in downtown, it would be worth adding to the lunch rotation. And, jazz or no jazz, it’s music to my tastebuds.•

—Lou Harry


Third in a month-long series of new-in-2013 restaurants that we hadn’t previously reviewed.


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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

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  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

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